National Weather Service gets big upgrade in Morristown

MORRISTOWN, Tenn. (WVLT) -- You may have noticed warnings about dangerous storms have gotten a lot more accurate. That's due in part to improvements to the National Weather Service radar in Morristown.

Radar is an important tool we use to show you what the weather is, where its been and where it's going. Decades before radar, we relied on reports from meteorologists and trained weather spotters.

The old radar was fitted with a lot of new components, helping it to not only see in the horizontal, but the vertical too. And that helps meteorologist tremendously when it comes to severe weather. It's now called a dual polarization radar. Traditional radar sends out only a horizontal signal that bounces off anything it hits, picking up the signal as it returns. That's how it knows where the rain, hail, or even a tornado might be. This new improved radar is more accurate.

Dave Holz is a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Morristown and says, "We can tell much better if these particles are coming down as rainfall, or large hail. Another thing we can see is the type of debris that maybe a tornado is producing."

A tornado will wrap all kinds of stuff around it, like pieces of houses it destroys. This can now be tracked by radar, confirming a tornado.

Dave adds, "You can see some greens, some yellows, and some blues. This definitely represents what we call a tornado debris ball."

Hail can also be destructive. So knowing where it is, how big it is, and where it's going is crucial.

"In this case here, everything that's in red that you notice, is being diagnosed as hail", Dave says.

New improved technology, we use everyday to keep you safe. Mike Simon, VLT Local 8 News.

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